By Bob Marsh
According to AARP, more than 60 percent of Americans die without a will. For them, the burden of deciding what to do with their remains, property and personal effects falls on the government. That’s probably not always in the best interests of your spouse and family.
For Maricopa seniors, preparing a will is easy and free. For Pinal County residents 60 and older, the Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens (PGCSC) has volunteer legal professionals who can prepare your will and other critical documents at no cost.
PGCSC’s qualified legal professionals can help you with:
- Wills determining how you want your personal property handled.
- Living wills electing what treatment you want when you are terminally ill.
- Power of attorney (medical and mental health) identifying who you want to make your medical decisions if you are incapable of doing so.
On the PGCSC website, you can also learn about what the Arizona Attorney General has published for people to use to prepare their power-of-attorney documents, including forms and explanations that can help you make the right end-of-life decisions for yourself that impact your family.
Most people leave all their property and decision-making responsibilities to their spouse or partner, and if they are not survived by their spouse or partner, they leave their property to their children or siblings and assign decision-making responsibility to a trusted family member and a backup person. Be sure to discuss your wishes in advance with your spouse and others you want to assign responsibility to.
We contacted PGCSC and went through the whole process this summer. It took just a couple weeks, start to finish, with only an hour or so of our time discussing our decisions and filling out the easy forms they provided. When PGCSC sent us the finished legal documents, we checked them carefully and took them to our insurance agent’s office where they notarized each document. Now the whole packet is locked in a safe where it can be accessed by family when we die.
Check out the PGCSC resources and prepare your will.
Bob Marsh is director of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.
This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.